Twenty-five years ago, the Ministry of Health recommended that 20 to 25 beds per million population were needed for treating psychiatrically disturbed adolescents, a figure similar to that recommended by the Royal College in 1956/57. The College also recommended in 1976 the provision of one adolescent psychiatric team per half a million population. None of these norms has been met, nor are they likely to be this century. The decline in the teenage population may slightly reduce the need temporarily until the anticipated increase from the late ‘90s. Meanwhile, government financial restraints call for innovative and creative alternative solutions for the treatment of disturbed adolescents wherever possible without admitting to a residential unit. Indeed the pressure is so great that a number of adolescent units have already been closed, or their beds drastically reduced.
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